How Safe is your Guild Bank from Social Players?

Imagine my surprise when I received a note from a fellow on the same server one lovely morning. One of my players was accused of stealing loot from a different guild’s bank and before promptly quitting.  The accused’s alt just helped themselves to various items. I’m not actually sure what items were taken or what the full value was.

Most GMs are bound to deal with guild bank thefts at some point in their careers. Either their bank gets stuff stolen from or a different guild’s bank gets raided (via alts) and they’re left dealing with the offenders.

In a fair number of cases, the accused would’ve simply been kicked out. And I’ll be the first to admit, it’s the easiest solution. You kick the player and your hands are washed of having to deal with them ever again. Your guild’s reputation is left (relatively) intact.

I responded back to the accuser saying that I’d look into it. But this is a player I didn’t have much interaction with as they were on our PvP roster. In the end, I notified my PvP team leader about this because the player was under their division.

“One of our players was accused of this. Any ideas about them? Here’s the guild they were in and here’s the character of the accuser.”

What happened?

Apparently, it was a misunderstanding. Our guy mistakenly took things that they weren’t supposed to thinking that it was open and free to anyone. They returned the goods (and compensated accordingly). As it’s their first time offense, I have to assume that there was no malicious intent (and there’s no evidence to show that there was).

As the player

Before taking stuff, ask.

Or at least, check around and see if there’s a banking policy. There may be certain limitations based on ranks. Sometimes the GM makes a mistake and places you in the wrong rank and you’re not actually supposed to be entitled to certain tabs. If you have access to rare items like enchants, recipes, or other craftables, it’s a good idea to check with someone higher up before helping yourself to it.

As the GM

Lock down your stuff.

Check the permissions.

Check the rank access of the permissions.

Make sure the right people have access to the right tabs. You have a responsibility to ensure that. It’s noble to assume the best out of everyone but it’s also quite foolish to leave the door to the vault wide open and expect it to be respected. Have your bank rules outlined somewhere on your guild website or your forums. Go over the ground rules with all new recruits with regards to withdrawal policies.

Speaking of banking stuff, which one of you left these stacks of Wool Cloth and Volatile Earth’s in my guild bank?

Question: Deciding Upon Disagreements

Have you ever been dragged into a discussion between two players? You’re being asked for your opinion or to side with someone, but you just can’t really bring it in you to actually care about it.

Other than flipping a coin, how would you decide and resolve a disagreement when you just don’t give a damn?

“Seriously? You’re asking me to decide which one’s better and could take on the other? Star Trek or Star Wars?”

How to Get What You Want From Your Guild

See that image up there? That is one annoyed looking cat. Looks as if someone took away his toy or threatened him with a bath. That’s the same look I exhibit when someone comes complaining to me.

But hey, it comes with the guild leader territory.

Listening to complaints. It probably takes up around 15% of communications.

(Actually, file that post idea away. “Percentage of matters that occupy guild leader time”). 

Most of the time, it’s just hot hair or someone wants to get something off their chest. Generally, complainers aren’t really taken seriously. But y’know? Every so often, there’s a legitimately dissatisfied player.

If you really want to lodge a solid complaint, you need to identify if what you want is an actual change or you just want to vent.

Too often in guilds, players are exposed to people complaining about something.

Maybe it’s someone’s performance.

It could be their lack of attendance.

Perhaps the raid just takes too long to get going.

You know, if you’re looking to secure some kind of change in policy or the way things are done, then effective complaining is called for. If it’s for the second reason (emotional comfort), then really, all you’re looking for is someone to listen to you.

My advice? If you’re going to complain because you want something done differently, figure out exactly what your end game is. The most ineffective complaint is the one where there’s no objective.

What is the end result of your complaint?

Here’s some examples:

  • Consistent faster pulls
  • Less off-topic discussion during raid
  • More booze during break

Once you figure out the outcome, identify the person capable of delivering it. You don’t harass the Warrior if you don’t have any food or water, right?
If I’m on the receiving end of a complaint, I instinctively put up walls because I know what’s coming. Being conscious of this, when I’m lodging a complaint to others (a legitimate one, mind you), I make an effort to be calm and polite.*

Ask yourself this.

Are you looking for results or the satisfaction of being right?

* My friends have picked up on this. When they notice I‘m super extra nice, they immediately get suspicious.

When following through with your complaint, start off with a cushion. This is a statement that prevents your target from feeling that they’re being attacked. Follow it up the meat and potatoes which contains the concern that you want resolved. Then finalize it with a statement proving that you’re not crazy or insane. You want that statement to prove that you are a reasonable person who would greatly benefit from the assistance.

Here’s a fictitious example:

Problem: Concerned about excess, off-topic chatter during a raid.
Solution: Additional focus on the encounters that matter

“Hey Jarvis,

I appreciate the hard work and energy you expend running the raid. Our raid group is an energetic and talkative bunch of players. Can we get them to tone it down during progression boss encounters? The raid would proceed much smoother and efficiently allowing us to get out earlier and awarding everyone precious relaxation time.

Bonus: They get to socialize in a less pressured environment.”

Signed,
Buster

Let’s break it down.

I appreciate the hard work and energy you expend running the raid.

Jarvis is the raid leader. This guy puts up with just about everything and is the linchpin. He might not get too many pats on the back but this is your way of recognizing the little things he’s doing.

Our raid group is an energetic and talkative bunch of players.

You’re reframing and putting a positive spin on the problem. The raid tends to discuss stuff that’s not relevant to what’s going on. This could be due to excess energy or a lack of focus. But, hey, you don’t really know the root cause. Maybe they’re just hyper from all the gummy bears.

Can we get them to tone it down during progression encounters?

Now we’re getting to what you really want. For the sake of your sanity and to prevent yourself from verbally destroying someone, you’re asking the boss if he can do something to calm players down. Maybe all they need is a firm reminder. Who knows? You don’t care how it’s done as long as it’s done. I will add that it’s a nice touch to offer a solution or two that you feel might work.

The raid would proceed much smoother and efficiently allowing us to get out earlier and awarding everyone precious relaxation time.

This is where you appeal to the rewards section. As my uncle Lawrence Reciprocicus always asks when someone calls on him for a favor, “What’s in it for me?”

You want to offer something mutually beneficial that your target would appreciate. In this case, a smoother raid and an earlier clear time.

Now the next time you feel the urge to throttle someone or want to stab a pen through your raid’s eyes, consider voicing your concerns to your leaders first. You gotta do it with discipline and serenity! Violence is never the answer!

Handling Raiding Couples

Couples that raid together in the same guild can be a nightmare to deal with. I’m glad to say I’ve only ever had to deal with a small handful of them. There were some great husband/wife combinations and some not-so-stellar ones.

Interacting with them individually can be a chore at times because most couples share information with each other. There’s little (if any) secrets between the two and I get that. Talking to half a couple may as well be like talking to the whole couple because the other half will usually be brought up to speed about any decisions, events, or other information shared with them.

Here’s the worst part.

Ever tried giving criticism and feedback to one of them? Maybe they weren’t doing so  hot or they entered a streak where they just had some bad nights. Or maybe that individual just plain sucks at dealing with a certain mechanic. You drag them out to the side on an off night or send them a message trying to figure out what’s wrong. They reply back with “But I’m doing everything I can possibly do” and deep down inside you know for a fact that it’s not true because you just looked at 4 other players of the same class, progression, and gear level then coming to the realization that they really weren’t. You send back another message laying out the information you have found along with some additional pointers.

And then what ultimately ends up happening is the other half just swoops in.

“WHADDAYA MEAN MY WIFE IS TERRIBLE HEALER? SHE’S REALLY AWESOME! SHE HEALS MY ASS ALL THE TIME IN BATTLEGROUNDS AND KEEPS ME UP, NO PUN INTENDED”.

Naturally, a cursory glance at other logs and incidental information proves otherwise.

“YOUR INFORMATION AND INTERPRETATION OF IT IS WRONG. THOSE FRAPS VIDEOS OF ATTEMPTS WERE OBVIOUSLY DOCTORED WITH THE INTENT OF SLANDERING HER AND MAKING HER LOOK AS UNSKILLED AS POSSIBLE.”

It’s at this moment where you introduce your face to your palm.

“THERE IS A CONSPIRACY HERE DESIGNED TO THROW HER OUT AND SPLIT UP OUR MARRIAGE. WELL IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.”

inception

We’re not out to get you

Seriously, there’s no conspiracy. There’s no secret organization designed to screw over a couple and split their marriage. It’s an honest to Elune criticism of their performance and the fact that it’s lacking.

That’s it.

Just not worth it

After a while, I realized then that some couples just aren’t worth having around especially not with such an overprotective attitude like that. GMs need to be able to deliver that honest feedback without a vulture jumping in and protecting every chance they get. Handling couple applications usually warrant a much closer examination and the questions asked during any interview stages are going to be different then the solo applicants. It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to blanket ask “If I said your significant other was performing poorly in this area, what would you do?”

On the other hand, you could just auto decline couples entirely and sidestep any potential drama problems that might happen later.

Thankfully the couples I have in guild right now are quite mellow and I haven’t had a reason to punt any just yet.

Guild Rebuilding 101

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. The past week has been extremely hectic and straining as recruiting efforts kicked into over drive. I am pleased to announce that Conquest is on the way to finalizing a roster going into Firelands. We actually went back in last Tuesday. All in all, I think its a fair bet to say that we experienced the highest turnover in a raiding roster but managed to recover within a span of about 4-5 days. This included solidifying the main tank and off tank positions, numerous DPS in addition to a new raid leader.

Pulled that off over a weekend. We’re stable right now which is good. We’ve got a consistent group of veterans combined with newer players who are just stepping foot into Firelands. I consider myself extremely fortunate and lucky. I daresay most guild leaders would have definitely thrown in the towel and called it a career.

What were the steps?

Step 1: Reassure everyone

When a potential guild crushing event occurs, the first thing to do is say everything’s going to be alright. This involves damage control out the ying yang. 

The first thing I did was explain to every player what was going on and what our plans were going forward. Our plan was to rebuild and develop our player base back to a number which allowed us to comfortable go into Firelands. After that, we would then begin the process of gradually cutting or developing players as needed to get them at a skill level consistent with what was needed to get us through the bosses. I had no illusions that it was going to be easy. I wanted to be back in Ragnaros’ door step within 4 weeks. The Vanguard (Rated BG division) offered their services by signalling their willingness to alter their PvP teams so that some of them could participate. Their offer was touching but I didn’t want to handicap their schedule.

Step 2: Get the word out

Once I finished assessing the overall damage and losses to the roster (no tanks, a completely depleted melee roster, no casters but a relatively unscathed healing corps), the next step was to get our numbers up again. Thankfully I had the whole weekend to try to pull that off. It would take a completely herculean effort to get players onboard. I would be targeting players who were looking for a fresh start or who were just getting into Firelands. Messages were sent to every player who applied but were turned down because we didn’t have the room. In essence, we were reactivating the reserved list. We told them that there were numerous roster spots available and that they would have a crack at earning and securing them.

Then I received a rather interesting proposal and this where the luck factor came into play. Turns out one of the players who I declined earlier told their present guild what had happened. The two of them started talking and before I knew it, I was dragged in. It was a 10 man raiding guild that had made some progress into Firelands but they were experiencing a myriad of attendance problems. In other words, I was presented with the offer of a potential guild merger. I didn’t even have to stress over sharing officer status or anything. From what I was told, the leaders were tired and wanted a new experience where they could just focus on their game and didn’t want to worry about things like recruiting anymore.

Again, that’s the luck factor coming into play. On Monday, we held a trial raid. We didn’t have the numbers to pull off attempts on Ragnaros (and I wouldn’t dream of going back in there, at least not for a while). The next course of action was to get both groups acclimated and used to each other. I wanted to see if there were going to be any potential personality conflicts. We ended up stepping into Blackwing Descent on 25 and had some fun in there for the next few hours blowing up as many bosses as we could before time ran out (and wow I didn’t realize the extent of the nerf).

Step 3: Meet with every new player coming in

With every recruit who was interested in joining and every player who was coming in, I did my absolute best to sit down with them and answer their questions. You figure players who are getting pulled from their sense of familiarity into a completely brand new setting are going to want to know what they’re diving head first into. I set aside some time and hung out with them on their voice servers and addressed their concerns as much as possible. The biggest thing here is be honest. If you don’t know, just say you don’t know. While GMs are often expected to know everything, that expectation is far from reality.

Even though the guild took a fatal blow, we’re going to be okay. The guild is evolving from a simple WoW guild into a truly multigaming community (League of Legends!). Although, I’m disappointed at losing several friends. These were players who I trusted and confided in. This experience only goes to show that you never truly know who your friends are going to be in this game. Some people change, some things don’t. That’s the way it goes.

Heck, we even picked up a weekend raiding 10 man guild in the process. If any players out there are looking for a solid 10 man group to run with on the weekends, look us up (4 PM – 730 PM Saturday and Sunday afternoon).

Bonus step: Reflection

This is a great time to reflect and think about your guild some more and what you want to do with it. I’ve had to make compromises and look the other way at times for the sake of guild cohesion in the past. After this though, I’ve developed a better understanding of what I wanted to do and what I expected from the team. As Mel said, it’s possible to have elite players without the berating elitism. Even though the process will take longer, it’ll be better for recruiting and for the atmosphere in the long run.

It’s a good thing Enjin allows us guild leaders to create multiple application forms.

We’re about to finish out our first week in Firelands. We’ll be back in front of Ragnaros in no time.

Has your guild experienced a rebuild? What steps did you take after the fact? Did it ultimately end up working? Was there anything you wish you could have done differently?